Espresso Drink Guide
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A simple espresso drink glossary for anyone who has been a little confused by the menu at the local coffee house or espresso bar as well as a menu guide to home barista's.
(Be aware that some coffee houses or espresso bars take it upon themselves to rename traditional drinks with proprietary names,Starbucks being the most noteworthy)
Contemporary coffee house drinks are based upon Italian originals, beginning with espresso.
Espresso is an extraction of finely ground coffee by means of pressure. Proper espresso will be made under these guidelines:
- It will be made with water that is below boiling temp. (194F - 203F is the range)
- It will be extracted by pressure of 9 bars (or 9 atm. or 132 psi)
- It will produce 3 oz. volume (a little more or less)
- It will be made with 7 to 18 grams of ground coffee (single/double)
- It will take between 20 - 30 seconds to extract
- Espresso beans - roasted to dark brown (not black and w/little oil on surface)
Espresso (single or double)
The essential drink is an espresso. An espresso is simply one or two shots of espresso with nothing added. A well made espresso will have an auburn layer of foam on top; a reaction of the coffee bean oils mixing with colloids. This is crema and it is the first visual sign that your espresso is made using the above guidelines. Good espresso is not bitter. Great Espresso is sweet. Many Italians drink shots of espresso throughout the day.
This is an espresso shot that produces less than 3 oz. - as little as .75 oz. - of volume. This is not made by just using the first few seconds of a normal espresso pour. The Ristretto is made by tamping for a slow extraction. A good ristretto will be a concentrated version of a good espresso and will have crema. Texture should be silky.
A macchiato is an espresso with one tablespoon (or less) of foam on the surface. Macchiato is the Italian word for 'stain' referring to the appearance foam over the crema. There should be no liquid milk.
The cappuccino is an espresso topped with steamed milk - both foam and liquid. The name comes from the colors of brown and white of the Capuchin Friars in Italy. Use no more than 4 oz. of milk steamed to produce 2.5 oz. foam and 2.5 oz. liquid. Properly foamed milk will be sweet smelling and tasting with silky consistent texture. A good cappuccino will have a layer of foam on top with a ring of crema all around the edges of the cup. The essential part of a great cappuccino is where foam and the espresso meet and the two substances mingle. Any milk can be used , however it is best with whole milk as the fat is converted to sugar in the steaming process which enhances the texture and taste. A double cappuccino has more espresso and a bit less milk. In Italy it is considered very bad practice to drink a cappuccino after mid-morning as milk is thought to be a morning beverage.
A 3 oz. shot of espresso with 3 oz. of hot water. Drinks like brewed coffee with the very special taste of espresso. Try it with foamed milk on top.
Espresso con Pana
Simply an espresso capped with silky whipped cream. Best preparation is to whip fresh cream with little or no sweetener. Extravagant.
In the US it is more of a French style Cafe au Lait. An Italian 'Latte' is one part espresso to 4 parts steamed milk. Preferences here in the US are for more milk and typical ratio is more like 1 parts espresso to 6 parts steamed milk plus extra foam.
Similar to a Latte but with chocolate. Some use dark chocolate melted into the espresso shot but many simply use syrup in the steamed milk.
Vanilla & other flavors.
Syrups can be employed to add flavors to the above milk based drinks. Toriani is the best known but there are others. Generally these drinks are so sweet that the carefully executed espresso shot is long forgotten. But -- ask any successful cafe owner and they will tell you these are very popular and profitable drinks.
2 oz. Espresso Ristretto with crema in ACF Bistro espresso cup
Espresso Macchiato in ACF Nero Espresso cup
Stratified double cappuccino in Bormioli Roma 7 oz. cup